F.E.A.R

Okay. No putting it off any longer. What am I doing in 2019?

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There is a PHENOMENAL amount of work that needs poking with sharpened graphite sticks, for starters. A year’s worth of failed poetry, to be picked apart and then reconstructed… before I start thinking about the new things I’d like to do. 24 Adjectives for Pain, Five / Seven / Five and that’s before we stick long form fiction and the short stories into the mix. Writing is no longer the problem. Working out what gets priority has become the… er, priority.

Probably, we will need MOAR TEA. Undoubtedly.

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That means that every night this week there will be pencils and paper out, and lists will begin to be shaped and formed from the detritus of the previous year. There’s also a need to go and edit the existing stuff saved here, before we start throwing anything else out into the world. Now, that might mean that in January we’ll cut back on Twitter content to accommodate this, or maybe tweak what’s already in existence to compensate. The GIF/Rhyme aspect of December’s Advent Calender’s an interesting diversion, that could easily be adapted as a starting point…

Whatever happens, there will be better organisation than there has been previously, of that you can be absolutely certain…

Poetry Archive :: Calm

Done for the year. Poetry output needs a rethink next year. Don’t worry, I’m already on it.

Thank you for sticking with me ❤


Calm

Surrounded, alone, motorway home:
metal boxes full, gift-wrapped journey;
glad we left early. Calm storms away,
inevitable festive holiday; hooray.

Exodus movements, firmament’s
guiding star, bulging cars: present tense
common sense solution, restitution.
Payback guilt, family’s faith rebuilt.

Arrival, survival: unpacking, get cracking:
festive season, transport’s reason. All
is calm, homecoming balm; relax…
Christmas parallax inclination, celebration.

Morning, presents calling: unwrap, attack
batteries, toys please. Dinner’s done, everyone
together sits, hats don’t fit… who cares, stares
party time, too much wine? Sleep, don’t weep.

Time to go, take it slow, holiday… done.
Festive fun, course run, redefines
better times: sharp reminder, be kinder.
Be change, rearrange life without strife.

Look Out Any Window

Lots of things matter to me. Some are fairly frivolous (see Bond fan fiction) but others come from a lifetime of noticing stuff other people seem to overlook. Environmentalism has been in my life since my teens, donating to Friends of the Earth for over thirty years. We don’t send gifts to close family and relations any more: instead the money that would be spent goes to charities so that it can be used in the most productive fashion possible.

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In the last couple of years, I’ve really learnt to appreciate the value of other people in my life, and how seemingly random interactions can add up to significant and meaningful online friendships. For the last two years therefore there’s been the desire to spread love as far and wide as possible, and I’m in the midst of a new crop of thank-yous delivered via Twitter. Follow the hashtag #FromMeToYou as the month continues to get the full range of haiku, and (as was the case last year) they’ll all be archived here for posterity when we’re done.

Finally, there’s the gift that just keeps on giving: the .GIF file. One day, I will write a set of poems eulogising the significance small pieces of looped video have bought to millions of lives. The .GIF Advent has run for a few years now, and is one of my consistently most-watched features on the other Twitter account. It’s also a little ray of daily sunshine for yours truly, because, let’s face it, this stuff can make you happiest of all.

The gift of giving is a beautiful thing.

November Short Story: Piper

This story was first published in 30 parts via Twitter during November. It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Piper

Maggie Piper can’t sleep, won’t take the chance she’ll miss her son again. It’s 1.15 am, brain’s ramped up on coffee, waiting for when the phone sounds a tinny, dissonant alarm at 2.26. Then, without fail, Alfie will start what’s become a weekly, unstoppable sleepwalking ritual. When her husband left in the spring, things were initially difficult between mother and son. Alfie was quiet to begin with, and for a while said nothing at all at school or to friends. Then, Maggie decided to just tell him the truth, no frills. That altered a lot between them.

He admitted relief that Dad had left, watching violent abuse meted out after drinking and late shifts and had no idea how to help. His father had ignored him for years, the loss was nothing he felt either angry or upset about. What mattered more was their happiness going forward. For a few brief and glorious months, life had been full of smiles and laughter, but after the boy turned 12 in October, something changed. There are gaps in memory that cannot be explained, irritable behaviour, and now, twice a week at 2.26 am, he leaves the house without fail.

She took him to her aunt’s in Blackpool at half term, hoping sea air might help. He was less irritable, but still found his way outside regardless. There he stood, looking down for six minutes before returning to bed. She is too scared to lock doors, no attempt to restrain him… There’s a chirp from the phone, and immediate confusion: who could be sending texts at this time in the morning? Looking at the message, Mags’ brain is simultaneously amazed and frightened by what she reads:

‘My son is going to sleepwalk again tonight too. You are not alone.’

The first thought is to respond but there is no time, as second message appears:

‘Please pack an overnight bag. A car will come at 3am. Don’t be scared, please get in, because if you do we can provide all the answers required to not only help but support you both right now.’

‘How can I trust you?’

‘30 kids in Manchester wake up twice a week like him. One goes to Alfie’s school. We want to help them all and all the other kids across the country who have been doing the exact same thing since October 15th.’

‘There are others?’

‘There are thousands.’

Mags’ not scared any more, but comforted. If there are others like this, there will be a reason why this is happening, and if someone else is already dealing with the issue, she should be involved. There’s twenty minutes before Alfie walks; just time to pack a bag for them both.


It’s still dark as car rolls into the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. Alfie is asleep, head in Mags’ lap seeming far more relaxed and comfortable than she’s seen for a while. The driver, Bill, is a genial Mancunian but has kept silent to allow Mrs Piper time to read as they drove. The folder she’s been given is both reassurance and panic combined: across the UK, since October 15th, exactly 2027 children have been acting as a unit in Manchester, Liverpool and the market town of Nantwich in Cheshire, constituency home of the current Prime Minister’s family.

Elicia Redmayne, eldest daughter of Charles Redmayne, PM, is the most high profile of the 2027 sleepwalking children at the exact same time as Alfie. He’s also absolutely the last person Mag expects to have opening her car door at 4am: he waits, looking more nervous than she is. The papers have been full of his absence from Westminster in the last week: is he unwell? Is there an international crisis in full swing, with government leaders across Scandinavia and Europe also disappearing from public life? Mags now knows real reason why Redmayne’s gone AWOL.

He and his party may be disliked by large portions of the country for socialist policies and a distinct focus on environmental issues over encouraging profits, but there is no doubting the unerring commitment to three children after wife died from Breast cancer a year previously. This man would do anything for his family, and for others. Redmayne takes a still-sleeping Alfie in his arms, carrying the boy to a newly constructed area on the Jodrell Bank site. Khaki tents have been erected: portacabins mark temporary walls of a site where armed guards stand.

Perhaps before it would have scared Mags this place is protected but now there’s an understanding of the scale of Alfie’s significance, the Army serve as reassurance. It isn’t just kids in the UK who are acting as a unit, but across the globe, and to an extremely specific pattern. There’s a medical team waiting already, because this young boy is the last piece of an incredibly complex puzzle that’s taken since October 15th to decrypt.


Mags isn’t very hungry, pushing scrambled eggs around her breakfast plate. This temporary mess hall might be packed, but she feels very much alone. It’s almost lunchtime and Mrs Piper is exhausted, yet too scared to sleep. The briefing she was given still rattles around a brain that is simultaneously happy and stunned: her son is the last of the 2027 UK children to be located. This makes Jodrell Bank unique across the World.

Tonight sleepwalkers will be watched and monitored as the first complete unit to be gathered together in one space. Media is already saturated with this revelation after the story broke in Sweden the previous day. Redmayne will therefore address the nation in the next 30 minutes. The Army have already taken over the entire Butlins holiday camp in Skegness as the only place where 2027 children plus families and observers can be kept together without major issue. As soon as Alfie’s tests are completed they’ll be driven with the PM’s team to join the group.

Tonight, at 2.26am, all kids will be allowed to roam free across the camp. There have already been hints of individuals heading for each other, groups forming before moving to create some kind of shape or message. Various theories will now be examined under controlled conditions. Mags already knows what’s going on in her heart, and that’s what frightens her most. This is no different to all the times husband would manipulate them both, his threats of violence if they didn’t do as they were told. Nothing good ever comes of messing with other people’s minds.

Even if all this could be precursor to some wondrous, life changing event, Mrs Piper is already thinking ahead. Considering every possibility was how her soon to be ex husband was finally found out, his affair and misuse of joint cash exposed with quiet, unemotional efficiency. Her father, an ex Army man himself, had taught many lessons in survival. Always know your exits. Plan for the worst, so the best can be enjoyed as a true surprise. Most importantly, however charismatic and beguiling they may be, never believe politicians know little or nothing.

Watching the PM on screen in a now silent, rapt Mess Hall, all eyes are on his speech; Mags knows he’s lying. They’ll have a chance for conversation on the way to Skegness, and then she’ll push him for the truth. How he reacts will dictate what happens next to Alfie, and for her.

This is not the World she woke up to yesterday.


It is not the World anyone expected today.

Trying not to look back, it is impossible to ignore raging flames in Range Rover’s rear view mirror. Four children huddle on the back seat, too scared to even cry.

Maggie Piper is numb.

At 2.26am, every kid at the holiday park had woken simultaneously: not one sleepwalked. Instead, from their mouths issued noise unlike anything heard on Earth in tens of thousands of years. It was anguished alarm, sending unexplained fear into the souls of each assembled parent. Redmayne had argued long and hard against kids being bought together, but the Scandinavians were adamant. This had happened before in their history; no harm had come to any of the children previously. This time, circumstances were different. Many things had changed in a century.

As connections were lost with Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the UK Military’s communications were ruthlessly severed. These children’s presence alerted the first wave of invasion craft hidden on the far side of the Moon, that Earth was sufficiently self-aware to present a problem. This planet had solved a genetic puzzle planted by the Korsal 8000 years ago, ingrained to determine human’s level of sophistication, alerting when bodily harvesting should finally take place.

Redmayne and Mags, plus their children, are the only survivors from a deadly first strike.

Welcome to the Cheap Seats

Those of you paying attention will notice that the website looks a bit different to the way it did on Wednesday. I’m quite pleased not only with the layout, but that it also allows room for expansion and addition going forward. Now, it is time to fill it with suitable content.

The Posts

#Blogmas is planned and (as I’ll be out tomorrow at the first of two Christmas dinners in the next two weeks) the first post will appear by the wonder of scheduling sometime tomorrow (probably about 5-ish as that’s a good time to maximise traffic.) All the other bits of my December plan are well into production, which includes a vital couple of hours editing a novel so it is complete and to my satisfaction.

I can do this all leading up to Christmas, right?

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A large majority of content can be knocked off beforehand, which means Sunday will be a bit hectic, but it will be worthwhile for the free time that will then be produced. After that? Just gotta remember to sleep and not scoff all my Advent Calendar Chocolates at once, that’s eminently doable. There’s even the possibility of some unscheduled poetry seeing the light of day: there’s a couple of pieces from rejected submissions earlier in the year that can be spruced up and shoved out again for a second try…

From Me To You 2018

Oh, and that reminds me, I have one more placeholder to stick on Twitter before I start writing my personal blog… the first dozen haiku are written. Now it is time to pick the backgrounds and get started with artwork…

The Closing of the Year

After due consideration, our content for December is now finalised.

#Soundtracking December 18

I’m going to use December to re-introduce myself to the World in general via the medium of #Blogmas. It might grab me some new readers, which is never a bad thing. It also gives a buffer for existing content to be built up (see last Friday’s post) and for some much needed editing to take place of older stuff on the site. Mostly, this is an excuse to give everything a good clean and rearrange ready for 2019.

#Narrating December 18

There’s the normal Twitter-based stuff too (as we discussed last week) with the addition of the two playlists above. I’ve spent the last few days getting the static pages for both #Soundtracking2018 and #Narrating2018 up to date and let’s be honest, this is almost a year’s worth of work to feel justifiably proud of. I’m already looking forward to the next 12 months of content. Have you SEEN how much stuff is lying about undiscovered on YouTube???

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Finally, it is time to go hunting for ONLY THE BEST Christmas .GIFs for your entertainment and delight via Twitter. We have a plan, and it is AWESOME. Also, so much shonky stuff this year that you’ll be mildly staggered at the minutes of work involved…

Gift of GIF-mas

Honestly, what else could you possibly want from December?

Sleigh Ride

It’s mid November, and although it might be a wee bit early to shove up the decorations, we can start the process of planning for next month.

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Americans are about to do that Thanksgiving thing shortly, but let’s be honest, a day is not enough. I have loads of people to thank in 2018, far more than I could ever fit in a blog post or a single Tweet. Therefore, for 31 days in December, we’ll be chucking the normal schedule to the wind. Instead, you get a whole month of me using the GIF collection in new and exciting ways, with tons of people who have helped me enormously getting their required moment in the sun.

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The Short Story for December has been heavily influenced by the recent commemoration of the end of World War One, and you can expect content under in the #Narrating2018 and #Soundtracking2018. It’s almost a year since we started this journey, after all. That’s a lot of YouTube content explored, but there is so much more still to come.

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I’ll also be taking the opportunity to edit and clean up all sorts of places, including the year’s output here. You can expect NEW GRAPHICS and some spiffy ways to help me out as the new year approaches. Mostly, December is me giving back to you guys without whom none of this would be possible.

I hope it’s a great month for everybody concerned.